Volume 31 Number 30
                 Produced: Thu Feb  3 21:03:48 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Benediction Without Head Covered (5)
         [Carl M. Sherer, Ezriel Krumbein, Eli Clark, Stephen Colman,
closing Sefer Tora for blessings
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Open/Close a Sefer Torah during introductory bracha
         [Art Werschulz]
Using a Camera on Shabbat (4)
         [David Charlap, <EngineerEd@...>, Ezra Tepper, Ezriel


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000 13:13:52 +0200
Subject: Benediction Without Head Covered

Yisrael Medad writes:

> If a male uttered a benediction (such as happened to me when putting
> one's Arba K'nafot [small tallit]) and then ran one's hands through
> one's hair and discovered to his amazement that he wasn't wearing a
> kippah, does one repeat the bracha?  If so, what is the status of the
> first b'racha?  For clarity, the time-lapse was more than enough time to
> say whatever one says, i.e., baruch shem k'vod malchuto l'olam va'ed, in
> similar situations to avoid a b'racha l'vataleh [a wasted benediction].
> Is a bracha valid even without a head-covering and if so, and one said
> the bracha again, what is the status of the second bracha?

I believe the first bracha would be valid. See Igros Moshe OH 4:2.

-- Carl M. Sherer

From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 13:26:00 -0800
Subject: Benediction Without Head Covered

In Priority in Prayer by Rabbi Yisroel Pesach Feinhandler: "One may not
pray without a head covering.  If one did, he is required to pray again
with his head covered. It would appear that covering one's head with his
hand is satisfactory in dire circumstances."  As a source he quotes
among others Rav Elyashiv and also Rav Moshe Feinstein.  Rav Elyashiv is
quoted as saying one who davens with his head uncovered is 'bazuy' (
loosely translated as despised).  Rav Moshe Feinstein is found in his
teshuvos O"H 4 page 65.  There Rav Feinstein says that since it is the
practice of non-Jews to specifically pray with their heads uncovered it
is a toaevah (disgusting) to do so since it appears that you are
following the non-Jewish customs. Therefore that prayer would have the
same rule as if one found the room where he prayed to be unclean.

Kol Tov

From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 16:37:00 -0500
Subject: Benediction Without Head Covered

A number of early sources suggest, contrary to popular opinion, that one
may recite God's name without a headcovering.  Massekhet Soferim 14:12
presents two opinions whether one may recite shema with one's head
uncovered.  The Hilukim bein Anshei Mizrah u-vnei Eretz Yisrael
(Differences Between Residents of the East and the Land of Israel), a
Geonic work cited in Yam shel Shelomoh (Bava Kamma, no. 42), writes that
Jews in Israel permit kohanim to recite the priestly benediction with
their heads uncovered.

Sources from the Middle Ages suggest that Sefardic Jews covered their
head during prayer and other times, but (at least) some Ashkenazic Jews
did not.  Or Zarua (2:43) criticizes the "Rabbis of France" who recite
benedictions bareheaded.  The Kol Bo (and Orhot Hayyim, Tefillah, no.
48) report that R. Peretz objected to those who enter the synagogue
bareheaded.  Sefer ha-Manhig (dinei tefillah) says it is a "custom" not
to pray bareheaded.

Nevertheless, the consensus developed that one should cover one's head,
both during prayer and otherwise.  And most later authorities focus on
the question of walking bareheaded, often basing the requirement on
avoiding Gentile practices (hukkat ha-goy).  However, R. Shelomoh Luria
(Maharshal) wrote a responsum (no. 72) that suggests that there is no
prohibition on reciting a benediction bareheaded, and that when one is
indoors it is only an act of piety (middat hasidut) to cover one's head
for reciting God's name.  Nevertheless, he is unwilling to overrule
others who prohibit and writes that one must be concerned for the masses
who are stringent.  But he concludes that if be-diavad one needs to
recite a blessing and doesn't have his head covered, it is sufficient to
cover one's head with one's hand.

In the case decribed above, I would think that, post facto one should
rely on Maharshal and not repeat the blessing.

Kol tuv,

Eli Clark

From: Stephen Colman <stephen.colman@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 13:11:03 -0000
Subject: Benediction Without Head Covered

I don't know the answer to Yisrael Medad's question about saying a
brocha whilst head is uncovered, but as an aside, the Mishna Brura
(Simon 8 Seif koton 7) suggests that we don't make a brocho at all on
the Talis Koton, but are Yotzei with the Brocho on the Talis Godol -
which ,of course, is only relevant to married men - or those who are
single and who wear a Talis Godol.

From: A.J.Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 14:38:02 -0800
Subject: Re: Benediction Without Head Covered

This is one for your local poseq (LOR?). But if you ask me, absence of a
head covering, especially if it is inadvertent, while reciting brachot
or other dvarim she-biqdusha could not possibly invalidate the bracha
retroactively. Repeating the bracha afterwards would then be "bracha
she-enah tsricha" (a superfluous bracha) which is forbidden.

[Same basic reply from Daniel M Wells <wells@...>. Mod.]

What about a theoretical situation where it is the end of zman qri'at
shma` and there is no way (this is theory, remember) that you can cover
your head with any hat or garment, should you recite shma` bareheaded or
miss out on qri'at shma` bizmanah? This is now a l'chatchila situation
but I am almost sure that the recommended course is to recite shma`
bareheaded. But I may be in deep water here.

Yosef Gilboa


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000 09:11:30 +0200
Subject: closing Sefer Tora for blessings

Yosef Gilboa, responding to Jonathan Grodzinski,
who wrote:
> > An "oleh laTorah" [someone called up to the reading of the Law] is
> > required to look aside and/or close the Sefer Torah [Scroll of the Law]
> > when making the brachah [blessing], lest people think that the brachah
> > is itself written in the Torah.

> The custom of closing the sefer tora during the opening blessing is not
> universal. Many major posqim suggest that it is more appropriate to
> leave the sefer open so that the `ole sees the text that is about to be
> read. These posqim consider it unlikely that anyone will mistake the
> bracha for the tora text. The compromise approach is 1. the `ole looks
> at the text in the tora. 2. leaving the scroll open, he turns his head a
> bit to the side and recites the blessing.
> At the end of the reading, there is no reason to leave the scroll open
> and so it is closed during the second blessing. As for the ba`al qore,
> since he says "hazaq hazaq v-nithazaq" after the congregation, there is
> no chance that anyone will think that he is reading these words from the
> tora. 

I had in fact understood Jonathan's words to mean just that.  He wrote
"is required to look aside and/or close the Sefer Torah" which I
automatically understood as 'look aside - before; close - after'.

Yosef mentions that it might be "more appropriate to leave the sefer
open so that the `ole sees the text that is about to be read."

"so that the *`ole* sees"??

Of course, looking inside and then closing for the brocho (blessing)
also allows the `ole to see the text about to be read, *but*, denies the
reader the ability to start immediately after the completion of the
blessing.  My problem is the *reader* seeing.

As a ba`al-kriah/ba`al-koreh (Tora reader, take your pick of proper
hebrew term, i think it was fought out here in the past), I am very much
aware of why the Mishne Berura mentions tircha de-tzibura (making the
congregation wait) as a reason for leaving the scroll open during the
first blessing.  I dont have any statistics on aliyot that begin at a
parsha (paragraph) break vs. at running text within a parsha (including
Mon. and Thur. aliyot), but I do know how I hate staring at a block of
text, searching for the word I know I need to start at, while being
egged on by half the people in shul yelling 'vayomer! vayomer!' or
whatever the word is.

I have taken to resting my wrist on the left 'roller' (the wooden
'wheel' at the end of the eitz chaim/handle) and pushing my fingers
across to block the second roller from closing, so that I can keep my
eye on the position where I need to begin.

In general, this is sufficient, occasionally I feel the `ole 'straining'
against the resistance of my hand. Only once did I have an `ole make a
scene, yelling complaints loudly at me, most of which I didnt
understand, as they were in (Galtzyaner accented) Yiddish.

For some reason, it does seem to be the older generations who want to
close the sefer, while most of the younger people make the brocho with
their heads turned aside. Is there any particular reason why this should
be so? Was that decision of the Mishne Berura a great chidush
('novellum'?? just guessing at that. I think I have seen 'chidushim'
pl. as 'novellae' but I know as much Latin as Mandarin!)

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel         PGP: members.xoom.com/shimonl/pubkey.htm


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 08:23:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Open/Close a Sefer Torah during introductory bracha


Jonathan Grodzinski and A. J. Gilboa discuss the propriety of leaving
open vs closing a Sefer Torah during the bracha recited before the Torah

I would like to add a practical reason for leaving the scroll open
during this bracha.  If the scroll is closed, then upon completing the
bracha and opening the scroll, the baal koreh needs to find the starting
place.  Sometimes this is easy.  Sometimes, this isn't.  (Parshiyot
Vayetze and Mikketz are extreme examples.)  It all depends how much
whitespace there is to orient the reader, and to what extent (if any)
the particular scroll being read corresponds to the particular tikkun
the baal koreh used to learn the portion.

On more than one occasion, I have seen the Torah reader spend what
seemed like a considerable amount of time re-finding the starting place.
If the Torah reader is a neophyte, this can certainly be unnerving.
(Even if the reader is fairly seasoned, it can still add a lot of

Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 11:54:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Using a Camera on Shabbat

Sam Gamoran
> What prohibition is one violating in the use of a conventional still
> camera on Shabbat?
> Assume that the camera is completely mechanical - no light meter,
> flash, autofocus, or electric winding mechanism.  Assume further that
> the camera is of the "disposable" variety so that there would be no
> temptation to repair it should it fail.

I can't think of a solid reason per se, but I can think of some things
that are probably worth taking into consideration.

- These days, it's hard to find a camera without a flash.  People might
  instinctively turn it on, without thinking.

- Some cameras (especially disposables), have a flash circuit that
  isn't ever disconnected from the shutter.  The "flash" button simply
  charges it, but the circuit is closed even when the flash is not

- Ma'aris ayin.  If a Jew sees you using a purely mechanical camera on
  Shabbat, he might think that other kinds of cameras are also OK.

- Using a camera may be seen as a weekday activity, therefore doing so
  would violate the spirit of Shabbat, even if the letter of Halacha is
  not violated.

- Muktza.  Objects not specifically intended for use on Shabbat are
  generally forbidden to touch (let alone use).  This is why, for
  instance, you can't twirl a pencil or flip a coin.  They are weekday
  objects that can't be touched on Shabbat, even if they are not used
  in a Shabbat-violating way.

-- David

From: <EngineerEd@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 12:49:29 EST
Subject: Re: Using a Camera on Shabbat

What prohibition is one violating in the use of a conventional still
camera on Shabbat?

I asked this question of an Orthodox Rabbi 40 years ago when my Kodak
Brownie camera, using size 127 rolled film was as manual as you
hypothesize.  I was told that the prohibition was writing and he
reminded me that the earliest writing were pictures.

From: Ezra Tepper <intepper@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 12:10:06 +0200
Subject: Using a Camera on Shabbat

Since the act of taking the picture has no possible use on Shabbos
itself, using the camera is considered "preparing on the Sabbath for the
weekday" (meichin mi-Shabbos le-chol), which is forbidden. As a trivial
example, one cannot set the table on Shabbos for an event on Saturday
night. This, although setting a table is a permitted activity for a
Shabbos meal.

Ezra L. Tepper

From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 13:53:55 -0800
Subject: re: Using a Camera on Shabbat

The Shmiras Shabbos Khilchoso vol 1 sect 16:26 implies that prohibition
is a subset of writing.  One of the sources he cites is the Anei Nezer
O"H 203 (based on what it says in the footnote it seems that when the
film is developed it makes it as though the picture was created when the
film was exposed) He also qoutes the Har Tzvi Y"D 230 which seems to
follow your logic; that there is no writing there.

Kol Tov


End of Volume 31 Issue 30